Pictures Of You

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It was a little after one in the afternoon on a sunny saturday and my kids were playing chicken in the pool. My two youngest daughters were on the shoulders on their oldest sister and her friend who is a boy.

The moment seemed innocuous but with the sunlight showing their smiles, the teenagers actually paying attention to the younger ones, and my phone in my hand tweeting about some ballgame, I felt compelled to snap a photo. What I beyond the smiles was the candidness of everyone involved. My daughters and their friend had no clue I was shooting a picture. The sincerity of the moment meant everything. Its photographs like that one that I find the most interesting.

I’m the least photogenic person I know. The camera not only adds ten pounds with me, but also 10 aging lines in my face, and exposing every flaw in I possess. When I started on social media in 2006, MySpace, I shuddered at having to put pictures online. We’re all judgemental. I saw the duckfaces, overly planned poses, and the wannabe models advertising their “best” look. I’ve taken maybe three good pictures in my life. At the time, I couldn’t track down my high school football photo so I tried the most cheesy “superhero” pose I could muster.

I’m envious of the gorgeous candid shots of people I see on twitter profiles, the Facebook albums, and blogs. I wish I could hire Annie Leibowitz to follow me around and wait for me to eat a cheeseburger in the sexiest fashion and shoot it for posterity.

This is one of my favorite pictures my family has ever taken.

There’s a lot going on here. It seems that me, my oldest daughter, Tay, and her mom, the Bobina are in crisis. Everyone appears miserable. The truth? This was us in a nutshell. Sixty seconds earlier we were happy, laughing, and enjoying a birthday party. Then, Tay, only 13 at the time because this picture is 3 years old, got into a small tiff with her mother and I over something ridiculous. Life with a teenage girl is like that. Her mom is flustered, I’m trying to avoid eye contact until the mood lifts and Tay is likely plotting her escape. Thirty seconds after the snapshot we were happy and laughing again. This picture is perfectly authentic. It was a moment in time and brutally honest. Here’s another favorite, again, about 3 years ago, when the girls walked into the ocean together unannounced. This one screams something.

If The Twitter and The Facebook really wanted to be interesting, they’d require that 90 percent of all photos posted be natural and poses be damned. We’d really get to know each other, then, wouldn’t we?

Now, if you can excuse me, I have to get my daily minumum low-level social media stalking in before bed.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Toady’s song was easy. I almost when with Elliot Smith’s Pictures of Me but since only six of you know who he is, I decided to play The Cure’s Pictures of You.

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80 thoughts on “Pictures Of You

  1. I’m with you.. My profile pic is only awesome because 1: It’s posed 2. It’s only mainly my eyes and 3. I was unusually pampered and spoiled that day with my own makeup artist and hair dresser for my wedding. I definitely like the natural, unposed pictures over the posed ones. They speak to me more too.

  2. Lord, your wife is lucky to have a dedicated dad and talented artist who is also a ringer for Don Draper, but not in a cheesy, smug way. You are a good-looking guy, Lance, be proud of it!

    I had to pose for photos, the glossies that are stock in trade for singers, and I NEVER had one I liked. So when Lex shot me giving him “the eyebrow,” I simply cropped it for my photo.

    Those family photos, especially the last, are snippets of daily life. Your fam is filled with lovely creatures. No wonder you’re such a proud papa! Peace, Amy

  3. okay first of all, do you really think more people are aware of The Cure than Elliott Smith? i would be shocked if that was true. not that i’m saying i know.
    and also? that is a SUPER sexy photo of your daughters. i’d keep that under wraps, personally. it’s the big bad internet, after all.
    just me.

  4. Cynthia M

    I keep threatening to share pictures of what I really look like, but I’m not sure the world is ready for that yet. I love your sitting at the table looking bored picture. It looks like every family in the world.

  5. I’m a photographer… and I love it when someone tells me “I’m not photogenic” because in reality, I’ve never met anyone who isn’t when I am the one behind the lens ;-)

    Very nice family moments to share with us Lance, each of them for their own reasons. There’s a story waiting in the one of your daughters walking into the ocean hand in hand, maybe you ought to write it out.

  6. This right here is something I’ll never have. My wife is convinced she’ll melt if her picture is taken – so I have virtually no pictures of her. And I’m just not sneaky enough to get candids. You’re a lucky man to have these, Lance and I am greatly envious.

  7. Please. I’ve used the same stupid avatar and profile picture for three years because I have no good recent pictures, do not use Instagram or some editing program to make myself look awesome, don’t take pics with my phone and basically couldn’t care less. While I wish I had something better–like a prettier face–we work with what we have. :)

    Anyway, I LOVE your Twitter picture, by the way, and do enjoy when you include these personal shots. It’s you–and your family–and there’s nothing more beautiful than the authentic and genuine nature of the shot.

  8. While I truly believe I don’t photograph well, I post lots of photos of myself, and, every now & then, I start to believe it when people tell me that I photograph well, so I don’t know.

    But, I can say that, yeah, most every pic posted is completely fabricated. Especially if I’m the one taking it. But, some of the best pics of me are the ones where I didn’t realize that a picture was being taken . . . I can always tell the difference in those ones. Always.

    • I wouldn’t call it fabricated John, just posed. I’ve seen pictures of you with your kids or the misses and they look like a fly on the wall snapped. it. I love those.

  9. nakedgirlinadress

    I look back at pre-divorce photos which didn’t say much to me at the time, but speak loudly now. It is amazing what one instant captured can convey.

  10. I have never liked having my photo taken, and I have very few snaps of my kids now that they are older. The ones I do have of them, however, are treasured, because they are also rarely posed.

  11. I don’t enjoy having my picture taken, and rarely end up with a photo of myself that I actually like. My husband is convinced that he is not photogenic, so I’m lucky when he will let me snap a picture and actually show it to people.

    I love that shot of your girls walking into the water.

  12. TheKirCorner

    I don’t ever think I take a good picture, not that I’m not happy when the camera is pointed toward me but I do like that we live in a day /age where I can delete and shoot until I get one where I don’t find something wrong with me in it. That said, I find when I am happy, in the moment…that even if i am feeling fat, ugly etc..that it doesn’t always tranlate to film. Which works out for me. Sometimes.

    also, I love the pictures that tell a story ..just like the one you shared where there is so much going on and how we never know what happened before or after, that is what makes your story and holds the real memories and I love that. Like my profile pic was taken the day before my birthday at my mom’s with that delish cake…right before I asked for a picture of me I was ready to tear my hair out with GIo’s 875th question of the day…but when i looked at the camera I remember thinking…I’m 42 tomorrow..I made it and hey it’s not so bad.

    I love the pic of your girls in the pool too, that is pure bliss, to capture that is awesome.

    and I’ve never seen a bad picture of you….just my humble opinion.

  13. Have you ever heard of a Duchenne smile? It’s in the eyes. Duchenne is mainly known for his research in muscular dystrophy. But he is also known for his research on smiles. Really. He found that with a real smile, one that shows real joy, you smile with your eyes. That’s called a Duchenne smile.

    I’ve always been horrible in front of the camera. I hated it. HATED IT. Never understood why I couldn’t take a decent picture to save my life. I knew I wasn’t ugly, so what gives? It was in my smile. My fake smile is ugly. I’ve always been a hand-on-hip poser. Since I was weeeeee’un. It’s not a pose, really. The hand-on-hip thing is ALL ME. But ever since I read about the Duchenne smile, I’ve practiced it actually. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn’t the smile I practice. It’s the joy I practice. And when I need joy, I just draw from my memory of what it feels like, what my face feels like when I am showing joy. It’s natural movement.

    I’m a goof. A huge goof in pictures. I often see people whose “pose” is consistently that deadpan stare. They’re trying to pull off mysterious and thought-provoking. They don’t realize it just makes them look dead inside. It is especially noticeable in couples pictures. When both of them are just standing there with their dumbass “blue steel” look. They look dead. And sad. And boring. When you see two people sporting their best goofball-of-the-year face-cracking grins, it says a lot. A thousand words and more. The same goes for true disgust. Or true misery. Or true exhaustion. It’s real. It’s life. It sings. It is exactly the way it should be.

    • yes, aimee, I eman Deus, to all of that. I didn’t want to break down every dumb pose but you did ti well.

      I’ve never noticed the hand on hip thing you do other than it was how you were posing. interesting.

      Bobina has her head tilts and like 23 different smiles. funny.

  14. ivyleagueinsecurities

    Okay, I love this:

    “Now, if you can excuse me, I have to get my daily minumum low-level social media stalking in before bed.”

    Happy to have stumbled here this morn.

  15. Ok, now don’t take this the whole wrong way because I am an old married mom of 5 kids but I totally think you’re handsome! You remind me of an actor but I can’t put my finger on who right now. I’ll need 4 more cups of coffee to get the brain gears cranking! But I know how you feel. I hate pictures of myself. If I’m posed I feel like a weirdo who doesn’t know what to do with her hands. If it’s a candid shot then most likely it’s highlighting the wrinkles, muffin top and/or the hormonal acne. Good times.

  16. I always love un-posed pictures best. My guy, while quite handsome in real life (to me anyhow) always looks like an old grump in pictures if he knows the camera is there.

    For myself though, I want plenty of warning so I can make sure my chin is tilted up as far as possible to avoid the dreaded double chin. Better yet, just stand on a chair and let me look up at the ceiling.

    • yeah, i carry that ticked off get away from me look in pictures too. i think you women need to relax. my wife freaks out when someone takes her picture. thank, though.

  17. Oh I love this post! Thanks for sharing pics. We are all voyeurs. I like that photo of you. It looks like my ex except he looked like that (expression) no matter what, and you are trying. Grrr. Ragemachine.

    I love candid photos too, but not of me. Funny how we think the people in our lives are beautiful in candid shots, “flaws” and all, but not ourselves.

    My dad likes this photo of me and him that is nothing to me – I have my eyes closed. I guess he likes it because he remembers the moment it was taken.

    And so photographs become more about the eye of the beholder, and the access to the story behind the image.

  18. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms

    Great post. The hands over your shoulder in the candid tiff picture are photo bombing me. Is there a baby hand on your shoulder or is the perspective deceptive? After you answer me, you can go back to your low-level stalking. Ellen

  19. I often think of our family as a bipolar unit. So glad we are not the only ones that can be screaming with laughter one minute and fighting the next.

  20. tara pohlkotte

    i really, really try hard not to force my kids to take posed pictures. I might have one where i say, “look at the camera” but don’t require the head tilt, arms at stiff 90 degree angles and backs straight. i love when through a picture, you can capture spirit. {like the ones you posted of your family.} love it!

  21. Haha! That picture at the picnic table speaks a thousand words! I am not photgenic either, and it takes about a million tries for me to comfy with a picture I actually feel I can share with others. I think we’re too hard on ourselves. But, I do get a little jealous of the people that can snap a perfect pic with little to no effort. I feel like I have to work at it. Move my head the right way, keep my chin down so I don’t look like a square, etc. I’m with ya! :)

  22. My husband is the photographer in the family. I have to say, some of my favorites are the unposed, random action shots he is able to capture. Everyone looks relaxed and just great. I don’t have that talent. Poor guy, all the pics of him look like crap. :(
    Our pictures are our most treasured asset. They’re incorporated into our fire escape plan with the kids. In that order.

  23. alsfm

    I’m the photographer around here. I manage to get most of our pictures not posed – but I end up taking 100 and using 1 or two of the best ones. And for me? I have to pose myself to look natural and then run and take the shot. Great post.

  24. I agree about the natural poses! I remember, a few years ago, seeing some story about people paying other people a heck of a lot of money to get “good enough” profile photos for dating sites and Facebook and so on. I guess Twitter profiles, these days! I thought about how silly that was, but then I use a cartoon icon and not a photo. And there it is.

  25. Loved this, Lance. I HATE, absolutely HATE those posed pictures everyone does. I’m so uncoordinated I can’t do a posed picture to save my life, so every picture I’ve ever taken has been candid…and not so great. That being said, I prefer my not-so-great pictures over those fake monstrosities any day. And I love the shots you shared here. Natural. Fun. Real. That’s what pictures should be.

  26. One of my all time favorite pictures is of my husband, calmly trying to talk down my (then six year old) daughter down from a major tantrum. His face is confused and helpless and her face is tearstained and miserable – and it so perfectly captured both of them in that moment, and our lives – because she was huge for dramatic temper tantrums at that point. Nobody else understands why I have it framed in the living room.

  27. oh i LOVE this. really. it gets so depressing looking at everyone’s perfect pictures and their perfect lives. people bitch and moan about people blogging in fairy tale ways, but what about the pictures? i hate posed shots. hate. and more than that i hate all the editing that gets done to some of these shots you see.

    • i agree….I’m liking the facebook more this second go around because some of my friends “get” what I’m saying and they’re more realistic and self drepecating

  28. That picture of the girls heading into the ocean. That’s perfection in my book! You couldn’t even plan that if you tried, plus when it’s from behind you don’t have to worry about eyes be shut or strange faces.

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